State of the Nats: Impressions from the first week

State of the Nats: Impressions from the first week
April 7, 2014, 12:00 pm
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Injuries mounting - The Nationals avoided the sweep on Sunday, but moving forward there are plenty of injury situations to watch. For one, Ryan Zimmerman is expected to be reevaluated on Tuesday as the team looks for a solution to his shoulder soreness. An MRI showed no structural damage, only inflammation, which is good. Matt Williams said on Sunday the team may try limiting his practice before games or simply give him time to rest. We'll see how long he is out of the lineup.

Doug Fister is also on the mend with a right lat strain and threw from 60 feet on Sunday. This week he should ramp that up to 90 feet and go from there. The Nationals should find out more about his specific timeline after he takes the next step in his rehab.

The Nats will also be without Scott Hairston who is now sidelined with a strained left oblique. Hairston had made only two appearances so far, but his absence is a knock to their depth. Look for Tyler Moore, his replacement on the roster, to get some chances this week against lefties.

Bryce Harper is struggling - The Nationals are 4-2 through six games despite the struggles of Harper, but they will need his bat to get going very soon, especially as they try to overcome injuries. Harper is 3-for-21 with 10 strikeouts so far in five games. It's a very small sample size, but Harper is clearly frustrated with himself. He even admitted he is "lost."

The Nationals say Harper is healthy, that specifically he has shown no ill-effects since the collision he was involved in on Opening Day. But until Harper gets on track, especially with the frustration he has shown, it's definitely something to watch. Perhaps playing the Marlins can help, as traditionally Harper has been excellent against the NL East rivals. In 31 games he has a .869 OPS and eight home runs, the most he has hit against any once club.

Marlins come to town - Though they have only played seven games, the Miami Marlins have been somewhat of an early season surprise. They took three of four against the Rockies to begin the year, then won two of three against the Padres. Neither opponent was in the playoffs last season, and both series were at Marlins Park, but there are some numbers the Fish have produced as a team that suggest they could be better than we thought.

The Marlins, for instance, currently lead the majors in runs scored (42). As a team they place second in the NL in both on-base percentage (.353) and OPS (.786). They also have the third-best team ERA (2.43) so far. Giancarlo Stanton and Casey McGehee are both near the top of the league in RBI totals, and Jose Fernandez (2-0. 0.71) has picked up right where he left off in 2013. Are the Marlins legitimate? We could find out a lot about them this week when they play the Nats in Washington Tuesday through Thursday. One good thing for the Nats, however, is that they could miss both Fernandez and Nathan Eovaldi. They were the starters in the Marlins' two most recent games.

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